Is your Christmas tree still up? Are you still overindulging in Christmas goodies? Are you celebrating throughout this week too? I hope so. In stark contrast to the secular season of Christmas, which begins in October and ends on December 25, the Christian season of Christmas begins on December 25 and lasts twelve days until Epiphany on January 6. These two weeks are meant to be an extended time of celebration of God’s extraordinary gift—God’s entrance into the world as Emmanuel, God with us. That should take twelve days to celebrate!
As someone who struggles with depression at Christmas, I know it can be hard to imagine such ongoing celebration. I, like many others, know the “languish” of which Jeremiah speaks.
Like the promise of redemption through God’s incarnation as Jesus, Jeremiah’s promises are of God’s abundance and the resulting celebration of the redeemed people of Israel. After being led home to Israel from exile in Babylon, they will gather at the center of Jerusalem, “the height of Zion,” and they will be “radiant over the goodness of the Lord.” Rejoicing, merriment, joy, comfort, and gladness are expressions of a grateful people responding to a God who has heard their cries for redemption and responds.
Christmas calls us into celebration. Christmas calls us into the joy of knowing that God loves us so much that God takes the extraordinary initiative to enter the world as a baby; live among us as one of us; and experience our ugliness, pain, and suffering. And so, even if we struggle with the holidays, we can claim the joy and seek the radiance of knowing the goodness of God. We will languish no more.
Emmanuel, thank you for entering our complicated and difficult world, for being with us, and for calling us into the joy of knowing your love. Amen.
Jeremiah delivers happy news, a promise from the Lord of a brighter future day. God will bring back the scattered peoples to their homeland, and their mourning will turn into joy. The psalmist encourages those in Jerusalem to praise God for all that God has done. God gives protection, peace, and the law to the children of Israel. The author of Ephesians encourages readers with confidence in God’s eternal plan. God’s will is to send Christ and adopt us into God’s family. We have been sealed with the Holy Spirit. The opening to John helps us understand the eternal scope of God’s plan. From the beginning, the Word has been with God but then becomes flesh and lives among us to reveal divine glory.
Read Jeremiah 31:7-14. How do you continue to celebrate God’s goodness, even if the Christmas season has been difficult for you?
Read Psalm 147:12-20. What is your doxology—your command and faith claim—today?
Read Ephesians 1:3-14. Consider the author’s question, Who makes up your family? Do you define your family by looking back to your heritage or looking forward to your legacy and future generations’ inheritance?
Read John 1:1-18. What does it mean for you that Jesus is cocreator in the beginning and takes on human life and suffering as Emmanuel?
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